100 Years of Benefits Shared with Members in Puerto Rico
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles exploring the history of MMBB as we celebrate our 100th anniversary.
MMBB officially launched our centennial celebration at the 2011 ABC Biennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico in June. We sponsored a number of events, including concerts by the Morehouse Glee Club, a breakfast for our annuitants and a member luncheon—and we were honored to spend time with many of you, enjoying both the fellowship that develops over time and the newer relationships among us. You can see in the accompanying pictures just a sampling of the special moments we experienced in San Juan!
Congratulations poured in from some of our most honored partners, leaders and visionaries, from President Jimmy Carter to Rev. Margaret Cowden, Dr. Gordon Smith and many more. You can see all of the video congratulations we received on our website here.
Our executive director, Sumner M. Grant, gave the keynote address at our member luncheon. He spoke about the three values at the heart of MMBB’s vision: generosity, justice and compassion. Bringing these principles to bear in good times and bad has enabled MMBB to secure the future of thousands of thousands of churches, faith-based organizations—and their staff. Video of Sumner’s entire speech is also online here.
Without generosity, of course, MMBB would not exist. The generosity of wealthy men like Milo C. Treat and John D. Rockefeller is well known. But many with far fewer resources also contributed generously. For example, Henry Morehouse offered to contribute $10,000 of his own money—a very large portion of his savings—to see that MMBB met Treat’s Christmas Day challenge.
MMBB’s $150 million endowment allows us to keep that spirit of generosity alive today. Last year, MMBB provided support to nearly 2,500 people. This included help with medical costs and emergency assistance for those hard-hit by the recession. As MMBB’s growth strategy takes hold and our membership expands, our need to show generosity will also grow. The endowment—that unique resource created by our founders and nurtured by our investment committee—gives us the ability to continue to share generously.
Justice is at the heart of MMBB’s mission. We exist to support fair and just compensation to those who dedicate their lives to doing the Lord’s work. We believe that those serving Christ should receive salary and benefits comparable to those with similar levels of education and experience. This is economic justice, of course…but our definition of justice goes even further.
During the 1960s, then-executive director Dean Wright wrote a letter expressing solidarity with pastors taking a stand in support of civil rights. He also used MMBB resources to assist them in finding new jobs or to provide financial assistance. This is social justice—and as we enter our second century, MMBB will continue to support economic and social justice by extending benefits to all who are eligible.
“To promote interest in the better maintenance of the ministry” is our passion. It is the evangelical theme that runs through MMBB’s history.
In 1941, MMBB embarked on a two-year drive to extend MMBB benefits to the many eligible pastors who did not have them. This grassroots campaign engaged state and local conventions, the National Council of Northern Baptist Men and the National Committee of Women’s Work among others. The all-out effort achieved its objective: MMBB’s membership grew by 70%.
That evangelical passion persists today. We have the ability to offer the world-class benefits with which the ABCUSA is familiar to thousands of churches sharing similar congregational structures. It is our mission—which we continue to pursue with passion—to reach out to those without the benefit of MMBB membership.
Organizations that prosper over 100 years succeed because they stay true to their enduring values, and so it is with MMBB. These values are part of our founding vision and our future strategy. They are, quite simply, part of our DNA, and will continue to help us evolve as times change over the next 100 years.